Campaign Aims to Lower the Rate of Antibiotic Use in Kentucky

Mar 11, 2019

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A new public health awareness campaign is underway in Kentucky aimed at educating physicians and the public about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics. 

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Kentucky has the highest rate of antibiotic use in the U.S. Bethany Wattles is with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and is part of the new campaign called Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness (KAA).

She said there’s no question antibiotics have been a miracle for many people suffering from illnesses like strep throat and urinary tract infections.

“But anytime they’re used, whether it’s appropriate or not, they have the risk of creating resistance, and also side effects, which can really affect individuals very quickly," Wattles said. "So, the concern is that if we use them when they’re not really necessary, we might not have them, and they might not work in situations in the future when we did really need them.”

Wattles said, nationwide, the drugs are most frequently given to patients with upper respiratory infections, many of which are caused by viruses that aren’t killed by antibiotics.

Wattles said data from the Kentucky Medicaid program shows antibiotic use has been especially high in children living in eastern Kentucky. 

“Our research group is in the process of doing interviews with providers, doctors, nurse practitioners out in eastern Kentucky, and also parents of children who received antibiotics. So we are trying to get to the root of that problem.”